Exotic locales and erotic locals were often the places and faces that populated Joe D’Amato’s version of the 1970’s. D’Amato’s prolific carrier bounced from Porn and slightly less than Porn to Horror and slightly less than Horror. D’Amato was a workhorse. A filmmaker who never quit. In fact, the year before he died—in 1999—D’Amato directed no less than 24 feature films—although you’d be hard pressed to find a person outside of the European sex industry that could name a single one. In 1978, coming off a string of successful EMANUELLE films—and two years before he would give the Video Nasties the notable horror flick ANTHROPOPHAGOUS—Joe D’Amato delivered yet another Eurosleeze epic to audiences—CARIBBEAN PAPAYA.
Perhaps in an effort to capitalize on D’Amato’s EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS from the previous year, or to endear itself to audiences looking for more chunk-blowing Italian gut munching, CARIBBEAN PAPAYA was also dubbed PAPAYA: LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS. And so onto DVD the film arrives, bearing box art of the same name, but with a print that retains the film’s original title. A word of warning…those of you not wholly given over to the nostalgic charms of low quality 70’s soft-core productions are going to be smacked up side the face waiting for the promised cannibal action to start. In other words, welcome to the wild work of 42nd Street sleazoid sin-ema. Where the title promises what the film can’t deliver.
Oh there are cannibals in the film. Well, at least there is one cannibal in the film. Actually it’s hard to say if the dude is actually a cannibal or not, but he definitely chomps down on a human heart—post cutting it out of some loin-clothed draped guy’s chest—right after a pair of pigs are eviscerated on screen. Other than that scene the film’s opening credit sequence provides the only other major moment of bloodshed in the film as a beachside lovemaking session between another loin-clothed male and our titular heroin (Played by Melissa…yes….just Melissa) ends with her biting off something that would best remain intact if you’re looking to consummate a relationship.
In between these two moments, we meet Vincent (Maurice Poli of Mario Bava’s KIDNAPPED) and Sara (Sirpa Lane, THE BEAST). Vincent is in the islands to oversee construction of a Nuclear Power Plant and Sara is his on again, off again lover who happens to be staying at the same hotel and is also a journalist on vacation with a penchant for betting on cockfights (no pun intended). None of that really matters, not their relationship, not the socio-political subtext that D’Amato peppers through the script, not Papaya’s succubus-like power over the men she beds and certainly not the bizarre ending that proves head-scratching at best. What really matters is the 5 minute disco infused cannibal blood orgy sequence that the film promises to include for the first time!
OK, I just got away from myself for a minute there, but I will give you this, with the exception of the lesbian lovers running on the beach bit that closes out this film, the dance number is truly the highlight of this film. That might be sad, but really you can’t have possibly expected more. Unless you bought that bit about the cannibals in the title! If you did, then shame on you. Don’t you know the grand scheme of Eurotrash films? As long as you can deliver a half-dozen or more soft-focus sex scenes in a measured progression it really doesn’t matter what kind of plot you string them together with—cause the raincoat crowd is never gonna stay around for the whole flick anyway. In that regard Joe D’Amato delivers exactly what his patrons expected—exotic locales (CARIBBEAN) and erotic locals (PAPAYA). Simple as the original title suggested.
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